Education is changing along with technologies; we call it the ideal alliance. Educators are looking for new ways to engage and challenge the learners, they develop new educational models and frameworks where technology has a word to say. Today, this word is about robots in education.
Robots begin integration into our everyday lives both at home and at school. We are aware of the impact robots on children and teenagers, where robots are used for their development and intellectual growth.
The role of robots in educational environment
Robots in education is not a novel idea. More than a decade ago, the learners of different ages were using robots to develop practical skills in construction, object manipulation, and games.
We can look at the use of robots in education from different angles:
- Robots as tool to support progressive learning methodologies: project-based learning or learning-by-doing;
- Robots as an educational subjects’
- Robots as a teacher’s assistants to help with class management and lesson delivery.
The robot can play different roles in the learning process. These roles depend on subject content, type of students, nature of learning activities, and teachers.
Robots can play the passive role if it is used as a learning tool or learning aid. This takes place in robotics classes where students build, create and program robots. In other situations, the robot can take the role of peer or companion and have active participation when the focus is on collaborative learning. However, if we want to see a robot in the classroom effectively assisting teachers, some technological advances must happen in the area perceptive abilities of robots.
Robots in education – making education accessible to everyone
I don’t think that implementation of robotics in the educational process is will replace to replace teachers. At least, not at this stage of development.
But there are several important functions which robots can take care just now – robots can assist in reaching students who for different reasons are not able to attend classes: sickness, special needs, or living in remote areas.
There are many students who are struggling with serious illnesses and can’t attend classes every day missing lessons and social interactions with classmates. Robots can help students to attend the classes by representing them in the classrooms. Robots help the students to hear and see what is going in the class; students can manipulate the robots and it creates the impression of presence.
Students with autism find communication with robots more appropriate since robots don’t use facial expressions and non-verbal cues which are difficult to comprehend. The robot can help students with autism to understand some elements of social communication.
Robots can act as proxies for teachers in distant education. Students that live in remote areas with no access to schools can benefit from the teacher’s lessons with the help of telepresence robots.
We need to mention that these are just first steps of robotics in education, and the technology is still quite expensive and not available for many. But with time the robotics educational solutions will become more intelligent and more affordable.
Learning robotics is an investment in the future
It is important that the next generation know as much as possible about design, coding, and integration in order to stay competitive in the job market. This is why learning robotics is becoming increasingly important at all levels of education.
When working on robots, students develop skills which will help them in further studies and beyond: research, analysis, problem-solving skills, creativity, and teamwork. Students learn basic algorithms by programming objects and actions and it develops logical thinking and encourages the decision-making.
Introduction of robotics at early schooling bring several benefits to the learners:
- Robots encourage scientific and technological thinking;
- Robots are tools to facilitate the transfer of knowledge through multidisciplinary projects;
- Robots are efficient tools for supporting inquiry-based learning activities;
- Robots can serve as an evidence of application of abstract knowledge to real-world practical solutions.
We see robots as a powerful educational tool which helps children to develop computational thinking; a structured approach to the problem solving and the ability to break a problem up into smaller sections. Children learn by practice and hands-on activities such as designing, building, programming and watching their creation come alive and performing according to the embedded instructions – this keeps them excited and engaged.
Robotics offer students open-ended challenges which require problem analysis, troubleshooting, and project management skills. The students learn strategic and goal-oriented thinking, cooperation and communication skills, critical thinking, accuracy, and patience.
Robots in Higher education are used to develop projects with real-life applications and used for research in the area of artificial intelligence.
Nowadays, educational robots are considered as a part of educational technology, where they are used to supporting learning and enhance educational performance of students
The Role of Robots in Shaping Education of Tomorrow
With new technologies knocking at our door, we can assume that new educational technology solutions will be offered to the learners and teachers.
I assume that online learning will be adopting new technological solutions since more and more people will be looking for educational opportunities which can be easily fit into their schedules. Artificial intelligence solutions and robotics might become the key elements in tracing and analyzing student success and adapting the course delivery to the learners’ performance.
But the educational sector is also having a major responsibility to prepare a new generation of world citizens to work effectively in the environment where robots are taking over most of the routine jobs. Education has a mission to equip students, and adults with skills to live successfully in this new landscape. For the learners, to be successfully prepared for the workplace, they must be: creative, critical and socially skilled. Learners have to become proficient with technology and acquire the 21st-century skills such as critical thinking, collaboration, and communication, creative problem-solving.
I am hoping that next five years will give us answers regarding the use of robots in education. Now, we can clearly see the benefits of learning robotics for different age groups of the learners. But we still have questions regarding the possibility of learning effectively with robot’s help or learn together with the robot. This might be considered as the first step of acknowledgment of the integration of robots into education. We still have to wait for answers.